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SUN: Group sues after New Mexico governor suspends right to carry guns in Albuquerque in public, + More

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
Morgan Lee
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Group sues after New Mexico governor suspends right to carry guns in Albuquerque in public - By Scott Sonner, Gabe Stern and Ken Ritter, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public in and around Albuquerque drew an immediate court challenge from a gun-rights group Saturday, as legal scholars and advocates said they expected.

The National Association for Gun Rights and Foster Haines, a member who lives in Albuquerque, filed documents in U.S. District Court in New Mexico suing Lujan Grisham and seeking an immediate block to the implementation of her order.

The challenge was expected, but even so, the governor's action Friday was an attempt to "move the debate," said Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount's Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, after Lujan Grisham announced that she was temporarily suspending the right to carry firearms in her state's largest city and surrounding Bernalillo County.

The governor, a Democrat, said the 30-day suspension, enacted as an emergency public health measure, would apply in most public places, from city sidewalks to parks.

She said state police would be responsible for enforcing what amount to civil violations and carry a fine of up to $5,000.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, who once served as a Democratic party leader and was appointed by Lujan Grisham, on Saturday joined Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina saying they wouldn't enforce the order.

"As an officer of the court, I cannot and will not enforce something that is clearly unconstitutional," said Bregman, the top prosecutor in the Albuquerque area. "This office will continue to focus on criminals of any age that use guns in the commission of a crime."

Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said he was uneasy about how gun owners might respond.

"I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts," Allen said, "as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense."

Medina noted that Albuquerque police made more than 200 arrests of suspects in killings in the last two years. Police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said enforcing the order also could put Albuquerque police in a difficult position with a U.S. Department of Justice police reform settlement.

Lujan Grisham said she was compelled to act following recent shootings including the death this week of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium and gunfire last month that killed a 5-year-old girl who was asleep in a motor home. The governor also cited the shooting death in August of a 13-year-old girl in Taos County.

"No person, other than a law enforcement officer or licensed security officer, shall possess a firearm ... either openly or concealed," the governor's order states.

Levinson told The Associated Press Friday over the phone that Lujan Grisham would draw a court fight, saying the governor was "bumping up against the Second Amendment, no doubt about it."

"And we have a very conservative Supreme Court that is poised to expand Second Amendment rights," Levinson added.

Dudley Brown, founder and president of the Colorado-based gun-rights group, called the governor's action unconstitutional.

"She needs to be held accountable for stripping the God-given rights of millions away with the stroke of a pen," he said in a statement announcing the lawsuit and request for a restraining order. A court hearing was not immediately set.

The top Republican in the New Mexico Senate, Greg Baca of Belen, also denounced Lujan Grisham's order as an infringement on the gun rights of law-abiding citizens. Dan Lewis, who serves on the nonpartisan Albuquerque City Council, called the order an unconstitutional edict.

Lujan Grisham said gun owners still would be able to transport guns to private locations such as a gun range or gun store if the firearm is in a container or has a trigger lock or mechanism making it impossible to discharge.

The governor's order calls for monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide to ensure compliance with gun laws and for the state Department of Health to compile a report on gunshot victims at hospitals that includes age, race, gender and ethnicity, along with the brand and caliber of firearm involved.

Levinson said she was not aware of any other governor taking a step as restrictive as Lujan Grisham. But she pointed to a proposal by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, to amend the U.S. Constitution to harden federal gun laws.

"I don't think it will be a political loss for (Lujan Grisham) to be overturned," Levinson said. "She can say she did everything she could but was stopped by the courts."

Jacob Charles, a law professor at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law who studies the Second Amendment, noted that the Supreme Court, in the June 2022 Bruen case, expanded the right of law-abiding Americans to carry guns in public for self-defense.

He said that ruling takes away the ability to take into account arguments about a compelling government interest, like the gun violence that Lujan Grisham said prompted her order. Now, judges must solely rely on whether any similar historical examples exist.

"They can't assess whether or not this is going to reduce gun violence. They can't assess whether or not there are other alternatives that government could have done," Charles said. He later added, "What it means is that contemporary costs and benefits aren't part of the analysis."


Ritter reported from Las Vegas. Stern and Sonner reported from Reno, Nevada. Associated Press writers Rio Yamat in Las Vegas, Morgan Lee in Santa Fe., New Mexico; Terry Tang in Phoenix and Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, contributed to this report. Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America places journalists in local newsrooms across the country to report on undercovered issues.

New Mexico governor issues order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding county for at least 30 days in response to a spate of gun violence.

The Democratic governor said she expects legal challenges but was compelled to act because of recent shootings, including the death of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium this week.

Lujan Grisham said state police would be responsible for enforcing what amount to civil violations. Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina said he won't enforce it, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said he's uneasy about it because it raises too many questions about constitutional rights.

The firearms suspension, classified as an emergency public health order, applies to open and concealed carry in most public places, from city sidewalks to urban recreational parks. The restriction is tied to a threshold for violent crime rates currently only met by the metropolitan Albuquerque. Police and licensed security guards are exempt from the temporary ban.

Violators could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000, gubernatorial spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney said. Under the order, residents still can transport guns to some private locations, such as a gun range or gun store, provided the firearm has a trigger lock or some other container or mechanism making it impossible to discharge.

Lujan Grisham acknowledged not all law enforcement officials were on board with her decision.

"I welcome the debate and fight about how to make New Mexicans safer," she said at a news conference, flanked by law enforcement officials.

John Allen said in a statement late Friday that he has reservations about the order but is ready to cooperate to tackle gun violence.

"While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold," Allen said. "I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts, as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense."

Enforcing the governor's order also could put Albuquerque police in a difficult position with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding a police reform settlement, said police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos.

"All of those are unsettled questions," he said late Friday.

Lujan Grisham referenced several recent shootings in Albuquerque in issuing the order. Among them was a suspected road rage shooting Wednesday outside a minor league baseball stadium that killed 11-year-old Froyland Villegas and critically wounded a woman as their vehicle was peppered with bullets while people left the game.

Last month, 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego was fatally shot while asleep in a motor home. Four teens entered the mobile home community in two stolen vehicles early on Aug. 13 and opened fire on the trailer, according to police. The girl was struck in the head and later died at a hospital.

The governor also cited an August shooting death in Taos County of 13-year-old Amber Archuleta. A 14-year-old boy shot and killed the girl with his father's gun while they were at his home, authorities said.

"When New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to take their kids to school, to leave a baseball game — when their very right to exist is threatened by the prospect of violence at every turn — something is very wrong," Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

The top-ranked Republican in the state Senate swiftly denounced the governor's actions Friday to restrict guns as a way to stem violent crime.

"A child is murdered, the perpetrator is still on the loose, and what does the governor do? She ... targets law-abiding citizens with an unconstitutional gun order," Sen. Greg Baca of Belen said.

Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, applauded the governor's order as a courageous and necessary step to curbing gun violence, even if the measure's legal fate is uncertain.

"If it saves one life, then it's worth doing," Viscoli said.

Since 2019, Lujan Grisham has signed a raft of legislation restricting access to guns, including a 2020 "red flag" law allowing police or sheriff's deputies to ask a court to temporarily remove guns from people who might hurt themselves or others, an extension of background-check requirements to nearly all private gun sales.

She also signed a ban on firearms possession for people under permanent protective orders for domestic violence.

Friday's order directs state regulators to conduct monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide to ensure compliance with gun laws.

The state Department of Health will compile a report on gunshot victims at New Mexico hospitals that includes age, race, gender and ethnicity, along with the brand and caliber of firearm involved and other general circumstances.


This story has been corrected to show the Albuquerque-area district attorney was not among law enforcement officials at the news conference.

___ Associated Press writers Scott Sonner and Gabe Stern in Reno, Nevada; Terry Tang in Phoenix; Rio Yamat in Las Vegas; and Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, contributed to this story. Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America places journalists in local newsrooms across the country to report on undercovered issues.

El Valle evacuated as fire breaks out in northern NM - By Nash Jones, KUNM News

A fire has broken out in northern New Mexico’s Carson National Forest about 30 miles northeast of Española.

Forest officials say smoke from the El Valle Fire was first spotted just before 1:00 p.m. Friday. It is spreading quickly and, as of the latest update, had grown to 100 acres.

The Taos County Sheriff’s Department has ordered residents of El Valle to immediately evacuate.

Meanwhile, the community of Las Trampas is in the “set” status, which means creating a plan, packing an emergency supply kit and staying alert for updates.

Chamisal and Llano San Juan have been put under “ready” status. The state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department advises those getting “ready” to clear dry vegetation immediately surrounding their homes.

Nearby roads have also been closed, including Highway 76 from Truchas to Peñasco.

Aircraft and additional fire crews are on order, according to forest officials.

Former State Rep. announces run for Congress - Matthew Reichbach, NM Political Report

A Republican who served in the state House of Representatives for three terms announced that she will run for Congress in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District.

Sharon Clahchischilliage, a member of the Navajo Nation and currently a member of the Public Education Commission, will challenge incumbent Teresa Leger Fernandez in the longtime Democratic stronghold.

“It’s time for Congress to hear a voice like mine, someone who has served our country, taught in the classroom, raised on the family farm, and fought against the radicals in Santa Fe,” Clahchischilliage said in a press release. “I am running for Congress to restore commonsense values to Washington and deliver results for the hardworking families of New Mexico. From energy production to protecting the farmers, ranchers, and herders, New Mexicans need someone who has lived their experiences, not tell them how to live.”

The Republican would have an uphill battle, as the district has been the most Democratic-leaning district in the state since its inception in 1983. Republicans have held the district just once, when Republican Bill Redmond won a special election in 1997 to replace Bill Richardson when Richardson left to join then-President Bill Clinton’s cabinet.

Leger Fernandez has won two elections to the seat, defeating Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson by 17.4 percentage points in 2020 then by 16.4 points in a rematch in 2022 after redistricting.

Police release the name of the child killed in an Albuquerque road-rage shooting – Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News

The Albuquerque Police Department today released the name of the child shot and killed in a road-rage incident near Albuquerque’s Isotopes park earlier this week.

The Albuquerque Journal reports 11-year-old Froylan Villegas was struck in the head when a passing vehicle fired 17 shots into the truck he was riding in with his family. Police believe the shooting stemmed from an altercation over something like an improper U-turn.

Police say the child’s aunt, who was injured in the shooting, is considered to be in unstable condition at the hospital.

Villegas’ mother and brother, who were also in the truck, were uninjured.

Police continue to search for the suspect, and are asking the public for help. Yesterday APD released photos of the suspect’s vehicle — a newer model black Dodge Durango SRT.

From piñata to postage stamp, US celebrates centuries-old Hispanic tradition - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

The U.S. Postal Service on Friday rolled out its latest special edition postage stamps, paying homage to a tradition with global roots that has evolved over centuries to become a universal symbol of celebration.

The release of four new stamps featuring colorful piñatas coincides with a monthlong recognition of Hispanic heritage in the U.S. and the start of an annual festival in New Mexico where the handmade party favorites are cracked open hourly and children can learn the art of pasting together their own creations.

Piñatas are synonymous with parties, although their history is layered and can be traced to 16th century trade routes between Latin America and Asia and the efforts of Spanish missionaries to convert Indigenous communities to Christianity. It was through dance, music and the arts — including the making of piñatas — that biblical stories were spread throughout the New World.

Piñatas became a key part of celebrating Las Posadas — the festivities held each December in Mexico and other Latin American countries to mark the birth of Christ. The religious origins are evident in the classic piñata designs of the seven-point star and the burro, or donkey, said Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

"Those early missionaries really were creative in the ways in which they wanted to teach the biblical stories to the Indigenous people," Moreno said. "Nativity scenes, piñatas, posadas — all those things really worked well. They worked so well that they became a part of the popular culture of Mexico."

And they still are part of the Mexican and larger Hispanic communities, whether it's in Chicago, San Antonio or Los Angeles, he said.

"Culture has no borders. Wherever community gathers, they have their culture with them. They bring it with them and so the piñata is no different," he said.

Piñatas imported from Mexico line parts of Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles. In Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, people have turned their kitchen tables and garages into makeshift piñata factories, turning out custom shapes for birthday parties and special events.

Inside Casa de Piñatas in Albuquerque, giant characters hang from the ceiling and crowd the walls. For more than half his life, shop owner Francisco Rodríguez has been bringing to life super heroes, dinosaurs, sea creatures and other animals with strips of old newspaper and a simple paste of flour and water.

Some customers come from El Paso, Texas, and others from as far away as Michigan.

Rodríguez stared out the window, watching traffic zip by as he waited for his work to dry. With residue still on his apron and the fans blowing, he contemplated the future of the industry, hoping the next generation will take an interest in the craft.

He said many older piñata artists have retired or closed up their shops and he's concerned the materials needed — like newspapers — will be harder to get as more things go digital.

It's likely piñatas will keep evolving as they have over the centuries. No longer are they made from clay ollas — used for hauling water or storing food — that would make a loud pop when cracked. Gone are the shards that would litter the ground as children scrambled for the tangerines, pieces of sugar cane and candy that poured out.

The stamps were inspired by the childhood memories of graphic designer Victor Meléndez, who grew up in Mexico City and remembers spending days with cousins and other relatives making piñatas to celebrate Las Posadas. His mother also would make piñatas for birthdays.

"That's a dear, dear memory of just fun and happiness," he told The Associated Press as he took a break from painting a mural in Seattle. "And I wanted to show a little bit of that and pay homage to some of those traditions."

Meléndez's artwork also is influenced by the colors of homes in Mexico — bright pinks and deep blues, yellows and oranges.

Getting chosen by the U.S. Postal Service to design the stamps was certainly a dream project for Meléndez, who is known for his murals and design work for Starbucks. He's been a longtime fan of stamp work, having collected what he described as a ton of little bits of paper just because he likes the art.

Meléndez hopes the new stamps will ignite conversations and encourage people to learn about other cultures. They might discover they have more in common, he said.

"In the end, I feel that there must be a connection and there must be some sort of mutual understanding," he said. "That eventually leads to better relations and more people being happy without fighting."

New Mexico governor seeks federal agents to combat gun violence in Albuquerque - Associated Press

The governor of New Mexico is asking the U.S. Justice Department to deploy more federal agents to the state in the aftermath of the shooting death of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday sent a letter U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting aid in efforts to stem gun violence and human trafficking. The governor says she has repeatedly requested federal law enforcement deployments since June 2022.

An 11-year-old was killed and a woman critically injured Wednesday as their vehicle was peppered with bullets in an apparent road-rage incident, as crowds departed an evening baseball game, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said.

The governor said federal resources are needed to help curb "escalating violence and drug and human-trafficking activity that is ravaging our great state." She also issued an emergency health order that taps into $750,000 to shore up public safety.

"The nature and volume of these crimes require focused attention from the federal government," the governor said.

Lujan Grisham described recent deadly drive-by shootings in Albuquerque, including an Aug. 13 attack that ended up killing a 5-year-old girl inside a motorhome. She also noted a news report about possible wage theft and human trafficking at a cannabis farm in the rural town of Estancia.

In 2020, Democratic New Mexico officials expressed concerns about federal overreach and the potential for civil rights abuses as then-President Donald Trump deployed a surge of federal agents to Albuquerque, Chicago and other U.S. cities in attempts to contain violent crime.

FEMA to drop biweekly progress updates - Danielle Prokop, Source New Mexico

The Federal Emergency Management Agency released the first of a series of updates Tuesday on payments to people impacted by the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fire.

In a news release, the federal agency committed to announce payments made through the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Office.

The first public report released Sept. 5 on the local claim’s office Facebook page, showed FEMA has paid out $40 million in claims. FEMA said it will release an infographic bi-weekly on Mondays through social media with the latest total.

The first report showed the number of claims filed, processed and money disbursed.

Monday’s compensation total was up from $37 million reported last week, during the announcement of the final rules around seeking damages from the fires.

With the publication of the final rules, FEMA officials toldSource NM last week that payments would increase at “substantially.”

In the infographic, FEMA said it’s paid just under $30 million to 154 affected individuals and households – less than 1% of the $3.95 billion Congress allocated for the disaster.

Additionally, FEMA paid $11,500 to one business, $7.6 million to three nonprofits, $2.7 million to government recipients and one $24,000 payment to the “other” category.

This totals to $40 million paid on 162 claims, according to FEMA. So far, the office has received 550 claims from 1,833 claimants related to the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fire.

In addition to the devastating fires, floods damaged homes and regional water supplies. FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has paid out $157,000 on 69 policies. Valuation for how much property is covered by the program is reported to be $11 million according to FEMA.

FEMA is partnering with another federal agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for restoration plans in the aftermath of flood and fire. These plans would work to address fallen trees, access roads, replanting, damage to fencing or livestock equipment, or watershed restoration.

The Natural Resources Conservation Services under the USDA has developed 56 plans with households and nonprofits, according to the infographic.

FEMA has paid 55 of those plans, totaling $36.3 million. Nearly 80% of those projects are with individuals or households, totaling $28.7 million. The remaining $7.6 million went to nonprofits.

Attorney General joins letter urging Congress to how AI is used in child exploitation By Nicole Maxwell,New Mexico Political Report

The proliferation of artificial intelligence has brought child abuse to newer levels that attorneys general across the country are working to curb.

The National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter to Congress on Sept. 5, with New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez as a cosigner, urging Congress to look into artificial intelligence’s uses in child exploitation.

“In this ever-evolving landscape of technology, it is up to leaders in state and federal government to place protections around sophisticated technology to ensure that the digital world is a safe space for children to learn and create,” Torrez said in a press release. “Today’s letter urges Congress to focus specifically on safeguarding children in a world where artificial intelligence is increasingly prevalent and harmful to our youth. I will remain a voice for the voiceless, and today’s effort is another example of my commitment to protecting our children.”

The NAAG letter requested Congress “to study the means and methods of artificial intelligence used to exploit children specifically, such as through the generation of child sexual abuse material, and to propose solutions to deter and address such exploitation in an effort to protect America’s children.”

AI has broadened the capabilities of bad actors intent on making child sexual abuse material, or CSAM, into three main categories: digitially putting images fo real children who have not been abused in depictions of abuse, using images of previously abused children in other images of abuse and digitally creating images of abuse for children who do not exist, the letter stated.

These are examples of deepfakes which are the modern equivalent of putting someone’s face on another person’s body.

“Prior to AI, it was possible for skilled photo editors to “photoshop” images by modifying their appearance with computer software tools. However, AI has made it quick and easy for even the least-proficient user to generate deepfake images. Whether the children in the source photographs for deepfakes are physically abused or not, creation and circulation of sexualized images depicting actual children threatens the physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing of the children who are victimized by it, as well as that of their parents,” the letter states.

The letter commended Congress on its recent efforts to study AI but adds that child exploitation using AI technology is both “underreported and understudied.”

“While internet crimes against children are already being actively prosecuted, we are concerned that AI is creating a new frontier for abuse that makes such prosecution more difficult,” the letter stated.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has some tips for parents/guardians on how to protect their children from online risks such as exploitation and abduction.

First and foremost, the FBI tells parents to have “open and ongoing conversations about safe and appropriate online behavior.”

Other advice offered is:

  • Educate yourself about the websites, software, games, and apps that your children use.
  • Check their social media and gaming profiles and posts. Have conversations about what is appropriate to say or share.
  • Explain to your kids that once images or comments are posted online, they can be shared with anyone and never truly disappear.
  • Make sure your kids use privacy settings to restrict access to their online profiles.
  • Tell your children to be extremely wary when communicating with anyone online who they do not know in real life.
  • Encourage kids to choose appropriate screen names and to create strong passwords.
  • Make it a rule with your kids that they can’t arrange to meet up with someone they met online without your knowledge and supervision.
  • Stress to your children that making any kind of threat online—even if they think it’s a joke—is a crime.
  • Report any inappropriate contact between an adult and your child to law enforcement immediately. Notify the site they were using, too.

If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of online or internet-enabled crime, file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The IC3 is an FBI-run information hub and internet crime complaint submission center.

Congressional watchdog describes border wall harm, says agencies should work together to ease damage - By Anita Snow Associated Press

The construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border under former President Donald Trump toppled untold numbers of saguaro cactuses in Arizona, put endangered ocelots at risk in Texas and disturbed Native American burial grounds, the official congressional watchdog said Thursday.

A report released by the Government Accountability Office offers the first independent assessment of damage caused by the building of more than 450 miles ( 724 km) of wall while in-depth environmental reviews were waived and the concerns of Native American tribes went largely ignored in the rush to finish the barrier.

Now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Interior Department should work together to ease the damage, the GAO said. It recommended that the agencies coordinate to decide how much repair work will cost, how to fund it, and how long it will take.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesman said Wednesday that the agency is working on a response to the report. An Interior Department spokeswoman said the agency would have no comment.

"What makes Trump's border wall so egregious is that his administration waived dozens of environmental, public health, cultural preservation and even contract procurement laws to build it," said U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a southern Arizona Democrat who requested the GAO review. "Before construction even started, communities, tribes and other stakeholders were raising the alarm about the colossal damage that bypassing such fundamental protections would have."

Grijalva said he is urging fellow lawmakers to transfer at least $225 million from Homeland Security to the Interior Department and Forest Service in the upcoming budget for restoration efforts.

Trump and his supporters have argued that a strong physical barrier along the border is necessary to keep out drugs and people trying to enter the U.S. illegally.

"We applied a commonsense, balanced approach in an effort to address environmental concerns while prioritizing our main goal of securing the nation's border to reduce a vast set of complex threats from entering the U.S.," said Mark Morgan, who was Customs and Border Protection's acting commissioner during the Trump administration.

"Speaking personally, if we disrupt a butterfly habitat or a few cacti die in exchange for disrupting the cartel's operational capacity to threaten our nation's safety and national security, I'm OK with that tradeoff," said Morgan, now a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. "The wall saved lives and disrupted the cartel's ability to improve their operational control of our country's borders."

Environmental groups said the GAO report confirmed their earlier complaints. They said future repair work could benefit from more involvement by the Interior Department, a lead manager of the federal land where much of the damage occurred.

"We hope this report will help people understand the degree of destruction the wall truly inflicted," said Laiken Jordahl, Southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, among the groups consulted.

A key aspect of the report was "identifying the fact that the Department of the Interior needs to play a larger role in repairing the damage," said Michael Dax, Western program director for the Wildlands Network, which also gave the GAO input.

Emily Burns, program director for the ecological group Sky Island Alliance, called it "refreshing to see the accountability from the federal government."

The border stretches across nearby 2,000 miles (3,200 km) along California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Sections of what Trump called his "big, beautiful wall" were installed between January 2017 and January 2021 by contractors for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Defense.

President Joe Biden paused construction after he took office in January 2021.

For the report, the GAO consulted with the federal agencies, as well as the nongovernmental environmental groups. It also sought input from the Tohono O'odham tribe, which has a sprawling reservation that includes parts of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico; and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians in California.

Those consulted told the GAO that construction in parts of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas fragmented the endangered ocelot's habitat by blocking its cross-border access and putting it at risk of extinction.

The GAO was told lighting along the border harms bird migration and the foraging habits of some species. Larger animals like big cats and pronghorns that previously crossed the border through vehicle barriers with wider openings are now blocked by tall steel bollards erected inches apart.

Many saguaro cactuses in Arizona's Sonora Desert were toppled during construction, and in some areas at least half of those transplanted elsewhere later died.

Damage was also reported at Quitobaquito Springs, an oasis several hundred yards (meters) from the border inside the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The area includes sacred burial grounds of the Tohono O'odham people.

The GAO said that Customs and Border Protection later addressed construction-caused safety hazards, such as building concrete floodwalls to fix earthen levees in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.

But the watchdog said more action is needed.

Isotopes Park road rage shooting leaves 11-year-old dead, another wounded – Santa Fe New Mexican, KOB-4, KUNM News

A shooting near Isotopes Park has left one 11-year-old child dead and a woman in her early 20s injured.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports authorities believe the shooting happened during a road-rage altercation over a maneuver like an improper U-turn.

Police say around 9 p.m. Wednesday, a truck was sprayed by 17 shots and officers nearby responded to the gunfire.

The child died on scene and the woman is in critical condition at the hospital. The names of the victims have not yet been released.

Chief Harold Medina said in a press conference yesterday [THURS] that it was the fifth fatal road-rage shooting Albuquerque has seen.

According to KOB-4, police are also processing shell casings found at the scene to learn more about the gun and where it came from.

Photos of the suspect vehicle led authorities to believe it’s a newer model of the Dodge Durango SRT.